…asks SC for judicial restraint in using its ‘disciplinary hand’
MANILA, Philippines - Since the power of the Supreme Court is “too awesome” to ignore, it should exercise restraint in disciplining stakeholders who may disagree with its decisions, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.
In an appeal for restraint, the alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Law said, “I respectfully submit that the Supreme Court's independence, honor and integrity were not besmirched by the release of the U.P. Law faculty's statement. The Court's independence, honor and integrity, including its moral ascendancy, have been placed under a dark cloud of doubt unfortunately by the intellectual dishonesty of one of its own.”
In a 25-page decision, the high court adopted the findings of an ethics committee, saying Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is not guilty of misconduct and gross inexcusable negligence.
It said Del Castillo did not try to pass off the works of the legal experts as his own in a case involving the “comfort women.”
The same decision also admonished the UP law professors for urging Del Castillo to resign while the case was pending. The SC ordered the UP faculty to explain why they should not be held in contempt for issuing the statement.
He described as “tenuous” the high court’s justification in letting Del Castillo off-the-hook.
Thus, “when the Highest Court's attention was invited to the plagiarism, the public, not only the academe, rightly expected that the Court would make sure that such reprehensible conduct would not be allowed to stain the Court's reputation,” he said.
He said the action of the high court, in admonishing the professors, is already a “step away” from punishing those who voiced out criticisms on the plagiarism issue.
Not only this, the SC has “only served to add pain to the aggrieved parties and to spark a fiery debate between the Court, on the one hand, and the legal academe and their sympathizers among the members of the Bar and the public on the other.”
He noted: “Ultimately, it is the Supreme Court, acting as the stronghold of civil liberties and rising above its own frailties, which is in the best position to cleanse itself and its ranks and repair the damage brought upon its image before the nation and before the world.”